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Our Game Mass Market Paperback – January 31, 1996

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (January 31, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345400003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345400000
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,146,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Le Carre's latest-which revolves around a breakaway attempt by Chechnya and a former British agent's attempt to track down his double-crossing old protege-was a PW bestseller for 13 weeks.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA?Another tautly written, well-researched spy novel from LeCarre. The Cold War is over. The Russians are our friends. Consequently, spy handler Tim "Timbo" Cranmer and his specially groomed double agent, Larry Pettifer, are put out to pasture. Tim, a somewhat stolid and unimaginative civil-servant type, has removed himself and his much younger mistress, Emma, to his late uncle's vineyard in Somerset, while the idealistic Larry is uncomfortably ensconced as a professor at Bath University. Then Larry and Emma disappear. They have apparently run off together. They have also apparently relieved the Russians of more than 30 million pounds. The British police, guessing at Tim's previous occupation, and the Russians, knowing it, suspect Tim's active participation in, or at least knowledge of, the scheme. All parties concerned attempt to force him to reveal the whereabouts of the fugitives, which he honestly does not know. He does, however, still possess some of the skills of his former profession, and in a suspenseful journey through England, France, and finally Russia, he tracks down his friends while eluding his followers. In the process, readers learn much about the dissident Russian regions and some pre-and post-Stalinist history. An engrossing, exciting spy story.?Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The middle 130-160 pages of the book were much better.
The pursuit of the main theme, however, is too obvious and indeed is stated as such repeatedly by minor characters in the book.
R. Albin
This is not a "great novel" nor is it a classic, and it might not be Le Carre's best but it is a solid effort.
J. Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Oakes on August 30, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As Le Carre has matured as an author, his books have had less and less to do with with satisfying genre requirements and more to do with exquisite character portraits and the authors own concerns. This is not to say that his story telling abilities have suffered, but Le Carre has always been subtle, and in "Our Game" his subtlety reaches new levels.

The protagonist, Tim Cranmer comes late to the important things in his life. All the "action" has already happened in this novel - many of the important events in this novel are past memories, either remembered in flashback (or revealed through interrogation). Other main events are discovered by Cranmer as already happened as he picks his cautious way through crime scenes or recent battlefields. Even love, or his recognition of it, has come to him late.

So Cranmer's quest is his attempt to discover his real past so as to provide him with a future, or at least a present. Le Carre's writing is at the peak of its form. Sometimes drol, often witty, always poetic and wonderfully intelligent, his writing captures the humanity of its character and the inhumanity of the uncaring world in deft strokes.

This is not a novel of gunplay, hi-tech espionage, car chases and narrow escapes. Neither is this a George Smiley novel. They were written almost 30 years ago and the author has moved on. This novel sits outside the genre of the spy novel, whose vague trappings the author hijacks for his own uses. The ending, which some people may not like as it is not "neat" and "final" is wonderfully unresolved, just like life.

I read this book when it was first released and have just reread it. In 10 years time, I will probably read it again. And probably enjoy it even more.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on January 17, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Britain, retired civil servants are typified by life in rural cottages, pottering about in a rose garden and Sundays with The Times. Tim Cranmer doesn't quite fulfill the picture. His "rural cottage" is an inherited spot of land containing a chapel. His rose garden is a struggling vineyard. And Sundays are occupied by visits from his former protege. Instead of a demure wife to complete the picture, Tim's resident lady is half his age and a composer. Hardly the picture of a staid bureaucrat out to pasture. Perhaps all these variations are due to Cranmer being other than a "retired civil servant" - he's a retired spook.

Spies never truly retire. They may distance themselves somewhat from the sharp end, but there are always loose ends left over and old cases that resurrect themselves. The dissolution of the Soviet Union was supposed to put ranks of spies from the West [and John Le Carre] out of work. They were considered poorly adapted to the new conditions. Le Carre and his literary creations have refuted that notion. His "retired" spy becomes enmeshed in a conspiracy of stupendous scope. It seems his protege, who was a double pretending to spy for the Soviets, is involved in an embezzlement - 37 billion BP, to be exact. The money is to finance a war of "national liberation" - a little item of ethnic minorities having faith in their identity. Their location is in the ramparts of the Caucasus Mountains, where loyalties are fierce, but the population scattered. Lacking resources, they seem to have convinced Cranmer's double to help finance weapons' purchases.

Larry Pettifer, Cranmer's long-term protege, is an intellectual. He changes ideologies like his socks. A consummate wheeler-dealer, he duped his Soviet minders for many years.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 4, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The title of "Our Game" plays on a version of Winchester football (English football), a version so arcane that even the players don't always know the rules. Le Carre follows his title with strict adherence, refusing to let his characters--or even his readers--understand the goal of this "game."
What purports to be an espionage thriller is much more a whodunit set against the drab backdrop of post-Cold War England and the haunted memories of one of Her Majesty's secret servants, Tim Cranmer. Cranmer's girlfriend and top agent have disappeared and the authorities are demanding answers from him. Even Cranmer begins to doubt his innocence--although this interesting sidestep was quickly righted. As is to be expected, le Carre develops Cranmer's personality with depth and sincerity, but this numbing dive into the depths of one man's self-absorption left me gasping for air. Even compared to the typically dreary atmosphere of le Carre's other books, this novel seems dark and pointless. Aside from his protagonist, he never truly allows us to become familiar with the other people involved. Through the use of first person, le Carre cheats us from experiencing much of the story. If this was intentional, to set us up for future surprises, for example, I would understand. Instead, I knew the basic ending long before our hero seemed to, and I found myself waiting impatiently for him to catch up. I held out hope for a worthwhile revelation...but it never came.
I'm a dedicated le Carre fan, but this novel was much simpler and less satisfying than I've come to expect from him. Even his shorter works had more actually story to them. Le Carre will always be the master of the Cold War angst and zeitgeist, but this expose of a tired former agent left me mostly tired. For better post-Cold War works, try the same author's "The Night Manager" or "The Constant Gardner."
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More About the Author

John le Carre was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy: Tinke, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honorable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People. His novels include The Little Drummer Girl, A Perfect Spy, The Russia House, Our Game, The Taileor of Panama, and Single & Single. John le Carre lives in Cornwall.

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